KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Republicans Attacking Sebelius On Insurance Exchange Rollout

News outlets covered the Sunday talk show circuit.

The Washington Post: Republicans Say Kathleen Sebelius Will Have To Answer For Health-Care Exchanges
Two key Republican lawmakers on Sunday called on Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to testify before a congressional committee about recent problems with the roll-out of the health-care exchanges required under President Obama’s signature health law. But they stopped short of saying she should resign immediately over the troubles. Sebelius has declined to appear this week in front of a House committee investigating issues with the federal Web site for the exchange, although she plans to attend a gala in Boston the night before (Hicks, 10/20).

Washington Times: Sen. Marco Rubio Defends Vote Against Short-Term Debt Deal
[Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.,] expressed disappointment in his fellow Republicans for not “uniting” in the fight to defund Obamacare. He criticized the Affordable Care Act’s rocky start, blaming the Obama administration for hiding the fact that not many Americans are signing up for the health care exchanges because of glitches on the website. “Setting up a website where people can go online and buy something is not that complicated,” he said. "People do this every day" (Devaney, 10/20).

The Wall Street Journal: Should Sebelius Quit? Cruz, Rubio, McCain Weigh In 
Sen. John McCain (R., Texas) on “State of the Union”: “Well, let’s have congressional hearings, let’s find out who was responsible for this fiasco and then take the appropriate action, in my view. But this is just the beginning of the problems associated with a massive restructuring of one-fifth of our economy" (Hanrahan, 10/20).

Politico: Cruz: Sebelius 'Absolutely' Should Resign
Sen. Ted Cruz says Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius should resign due to the disappointing rollout of Obamacare. "Absolutely, she should resign. Why? Because the program she implanted, Obamacare, is a disaster. It’s not working, it’s hurting people all across the country," Cruz said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union." The freshman Republican senator from Texas went even further, attacking "grey beards" in his own party when asked whether Sebelius remaining in the administration would benefit GOP attack strategies (McCalmont, 10/20).

Fox News: Sebelius 'will testify' on ObamaCare website woes, Durbin says
A top Democratic senator said Sunday that Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius will testify before Congress about the problem-plagued ObamaCare website, amid a growing call for her to accept requests to testify. "Ultimately, Secretary Sebelius will testify," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat, told “Fox News Sunday.” ... The House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter directly to Sebelius last week asking her to testify Thursday on the matter. Sebelius has yet to respond publicly, but reportedly plans to attend a gala the night before in Boston, which has fueled calls for resignation (10/20).

The Hill: Top Senate Democrat Says ObamaCare Is On Its Way To 'Substantial Success'
“I don’t think this plan will work because it’s based on a couple of premises that won’t work,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) replied. “But when you can't even put together the package to sign up, that shows how big a job it is for the federal government to manage 16 percent of the economy and people’s health insurance plans. It's not where the federal government should be.” Durbin and other defenders of the law have claimed that some of the problems with the website have been due to a surge in traffic, which they say represents intense public interest (Hattem, 10/20).

Finally -

The Wall Street Journal: Health Law's Rocky Debut Puts Sebelius In Cross Hairs
Sebelius, the nation's top health official, was in Tampa the other day to promote the "online shopping experience" of the federal website where uninsured Americans can now select coverage. Christopher Dawson, who sat to her left at the staged event, had tried for a week to enroll. Like others, he was foiled by "error" messages. ... With anger growing over the inability of consumers across the U.S. to access the new online marketplace, Mrs. Sebelius has become the target of late-night spoofs and calls for her resignation (Langley, 10/18).

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